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Hunters are private, freelance workers that take on jobs in the form of requests (often called quests) posted to a Quest Broker. While similar to that of an adventurer of old or a modern mercenary, Hunters can occupy a wide variety of professions and aren't confined to just combat roles. The concept of Hunters can trace its roots to the Shepherd Republic during the two Incantation Wars (respectively between -124 and -121, and -56 to -42 before the events of Solatorobo), and are now a staple of modern Shepherd society.
As the Incantation Wars dragged on and casualties continued to increase, the Shepherd Republic began hiring mercenaries from nearby countries to supplement their own military, creating a foreign legion. Rather than giving the mercenaries special tasks, they were utilized the same way as the national military, allowing Shepherd to increase the size of its forces without having to enlist more of its own citizens. The high skill of the mercenaries helped increase the overall combat effectiveness of the army, as well as kept the number of Shepherdian citizens killed in action from increasing.
After the war, the foreign legion was reassigned to act as a special unit that would be assigned to jobs where they were needed, such as bolstering the national military, and rescue missions. Over time the foreign legion was repeatedly downsized due to pressure from the national military, eventually being disbanded. Because many of the former mercenaries decided to become citizens of Shepherd during and after the war, Hunter's Guilds were created, essentially reviving the foreign legion as a group of private entities. Because the majority of guild members are now native citizens of Shepherd, the original concept of the foreign legion is now just a part of history.